Spotlight On: Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo Part 2


In the second edition of this week's three-part Pixiwoo special, Samantha Chapman chats about all things YouTube and social media.

B: When did you first start making YouTube videos?

"I was on a forum and this artist-in-training asked me a makeup application question. I thought it'd be easier to create a video tutorial for her instead of writing it out. I saw Lauren Luke—who isn't and doesn't claim to be a makeup artist—creating fun tutorials on YouTube and thought I'd give a go at it. I did not expect it to turn out like this, it just sort of happened. Then Nic started joining in and it's been so fun for us."

B: Do you feel like YouTube is overrun with too much beauty information?

"I'm kind of torn. As a member of the YouTube community, I love that the average woman can access so much—mostly good—free information. As a makeup-artist, however, I understand that there's a lot of incorrect information out there. Most of our subscribers don't have the intention of becoming makeup artists, they're just looking for daily techniques for themselves. Aspiring makeup artists may enjoy our videos, but they understand that they need proper training and on-set experience. People don't realize that most of our 10 minute videos actually take about 90 minutes to film with the proper technique and blending."

B: How has the industry responded to your YouTube success?

"Every makeup artist I've talked to has been incredibly supportive, and with even more professional artists on board like Lisa Eldridge, it's only enhancing our credibility as makeup artists in the social media scene. It was always something that worried me in the beginning, but it's never been an issue. I've heard praise from a lot of top makeup artists and it's so amazing to be recognized by people you admire."

B: It seems like the consumer and pro sides of the industry are interacting much more because of social media star-dom (IMATS, for example). As an industry insider, how do you feel about this new shift?

"It's another issue I see both sides on. Fundamentally, beauty is a business, so if there's more money to be made, people will take advantage. IMATS originally started as an industry-exclusive trade show and it's sort of transformed into this new entity. It's great that we're exposing people to pro brands and connecting better with the consumer, but you don't want to upset professional working artists. I propose IMATS dedicate one day solely for professionals as a compromise."

B: You've got 292 videos and counting—how do you keep it fresh? What percentage of videos are user-requested and what's your favorite YouTube video to date?

"We don't do a lot of user requests anymore because we've already done them, people just can't find the videos properly. We get Kim Kardashian all the time. I keep things fresh by constantly watching the runway. You've got to have a pulse on the runway to understand what's hot in beauty. Sometimes, however, I just play and see what happens.

My personal favorite tutorial is my Marla Singer look. "Fight Club" is one of my all-time favorite films and I just love Helena Bonham Carter's gray, smudged, unhealthy look. It's a bit bizarre, but I love the aesthetics of it—so grungy and cool, and very '90s."

B: What's the YouTube environment like?

"I love the YouTube community. The majority of people are extremely positive and encouraging. We do get the random rude or sexual comment, but we just block those users and never have to deal with that—who has time?"

B: How do you connect with your subscribers?

"We're operating at a much higher volume than before, so it's much harder to reply to everyone's emails and comments. The majority of our e-mails are pure spam, but we work hard to answer thoughtful and well written questions or comments. If subscribers take the time and effort to write me a thoughtful note, it's only fair that I reciprocate, right? Since I'm such a busy mom, I do love the ease of Twitter. I can chat with people all day in under 140 characters!"

B: YouTube beauty has definitely gotten more commercial over the past year. How do you feel about sponsored content?

"I can't judge anyone for their choices. It's a business decision—whether good or bad is debatable. Personally, I won't even go there. I think it's dishonest and I would lose my authenticity and credibility as an artist. A lot of YouTubers have done really well on this model and it's completely their prerogative, just not something I'm interesting in doing. And to be fair, every "popular" guru on YouTube started making these videos because they had an underlying passion for beauty, you can't deny that."

B: YouTube Gurus have come under a lot of scrutiny with very critical communities, what's your stance?

"I do have a bit of a major issue with one site in particular. I fully believe in freedom of speech but it's such an odd mix—they're hidden behind the screens and we're fair game. We're not celebrities, we're people creating makeup tutorials. We have families and we don't live in gated communities. When people start throwing out your address and telephone number, it's pretty scary. In life, you've got a mix of nice and not-so-nice, this just takes it to an alarming new level."

B: What do you think the future of YouTube holds for you?

"Nic and I really take it day by day. Social media is this massive digital concept I can't fully wrap my head around—who knows what the future holds? I'm not pinning my livelihood on it and I'm trying to make the right decisions for myself and my family. We just want to keep producing high quality content with a credible and authentic voice that's enjoyable for our subscribers to watch. I'm having so much fun right now that I don't want to stop!"

Check out Part 1 and Part 3 of our Pixiwoo Interview series!